Sonic Boom festival of new classical music starts tonight!

Rodney Sharman is the Composer-in-Residence at this year’s Sonic Boom Music Festival.

Each year, the Sonic Boom Music Festival showcases the best of contemporary classical (new) music in the province. The festival spotlights a BC Composer, Featured Artist(s) and Ensemble, as well as a mix of ensembles of one to four players performing dozens of new works by both emerging and established West Coast composers.

The 32nd festival takes place on March 21-24. As usual, there’s an eclectic lineup of concerts (at two downtown venues, Pyatt Hall and the Orpheum Annex, both at 843 Seymour St.) as well as a student composer master-class. See below for more details.

For 2019, Sonic Boom’s Featured Artists are virtuoso percussionists Aaron Graham and Julia ChIen. Rodney Sharman is the Composer-in-Residence and  Turning Point Ensemble is the Ensemble-in-Residence.

Sharman has been Composer-in-Residence of the Victoria Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as Composer-Host of the Calgary Philharmonic’s New Music Festival. In addition to concert music, Sharman writes music for cabaret, opera, and dance. He also sings, conducts, and plays recorders and flutes. He works regularly with choreographer James Kudelka. He is the recipient of the 2017 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

The festival concert schedule is as follows:

Mixed Ensemble Concert (No. 1) (Thurs., March 21 at 7:30 p.m., Pyatt Hall) – A concert featuring a wide array of works by B.C. composers. Among the musicians is pianist Nicole Linaksita. She has performed recitals and chamber concerts in Canada, the U.S. and Europe and has participated in national and international competitions. She recently played in concerts with the Post-Modern Camerata and performed in the Vancouver premiere of Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” with Music on Main.

Mixed Ensembles Concert (No. 2) (Fri. March 22 at 7:30 p.m., Pyatt Hall) – Same as above but different musicians and compositions.

Featured Artists Aaron Graham and Julia Chien in Concert plus Mixed Ensembles (Sat., March 23 at 7:30 p.m., Pyatt Hall) – Renowned percussionists Aaron Graham and Julia Chien perform in the first part of the concert. Works include pieces by Jaelem Bhate, Leonard Gao, Kara Gibbs, Iván Salazar González, Duncan Maunders and Kamran Shahrokhi.

Following Graham and Chien, eclectic mixed ensembles featuring musicians Mark McGregor, Fleur Sweetman, Julie Begg, Katherine Evans and Carrie To perform the works of Mattheus Brown, Craig Day and Cheryl Olvera.

Ensemble in Residence: Turning Point Ensemble in Concert (Sun., March 24 at 7:30 p.m., Orpheum Annex) – The local ensemble performs works from a range of composers. The chamber ensemble features 16 instrumentalists and a conductor. Their mandate is to increase the understanding and appreciation of music composed over the past 100 years. The ensemble has mounted innovative interdisciplinary productions including operas and collaborations with dance, theatre, visual art, and moving image.

Based in Burnaby, Julia Chien is a percussionist who has performed extensively with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra. Photo: Nicola Betts

Student Composers master class with Composer-in-Residence Rodney Sharman and pianist Nicole Linaksita (Sun, March 24 at 10:00 a.m., Martha Lou Henley classroom at the VSO School of Music) – Moderated by Composer-in-Residence, Rodney Sharman, the masterclass features submissions by emerging composers performed by Nicole Linaksita (piano). Sharman and Linaksita will provide feedback for each piece. This event is free and open to the public.

Individual concert tickets are $20 (general), $15 (students/seniors/artists). A Festival Pass to all 4 concerts is $50. For tickets visit For more info and a complete schedule visit


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